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Can anyone tell me what I have914740435_IMG_1782(2).thumb.JPG.bb515449ec7097228a897af2ee5274e2.JPGIMG_1793.thumb.JPG.2d7f0d771074ca15b39c1709fd6390e2.JPG1278671772_IMG_1784(2).thumb.JPG.b6574f09b1c451871a556c8ce381dfbe.JPG? I picked it up at an auction a few years back. The other guy didn't bid again like I thought he would and I became the proud owner.  It is a high wheeler that is now powered by a B&S engine. The wheels have steel rims with a tread design on the rear. Rack and pinion steering, single drive chain on left side, and a planetary gear set up with an external band for a second gear.  I can't find any names or markings anywhere. One frame rail is original, the other side has been made sometime.

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Edited by 190bear (see edit history)
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Hard to tell. Better pictures of the front axle and steering would help. 

When the antique automobile and horseless carriage hobby was just beginning, in the mid 1930s, and on into about 1960, a lot of people just didn't 'get' what it was all about. What it was 'about', was preserving our automotive heritage by collecting, restoring, and driving real 'antique' automobiles. Many people that wanted to join in on the fun, decided to build their own using old horse drawn carriages and whatever else they could scrounge up. It should seem odd to us today, that back in those decades, when so many of the real things hid in barns and garages waiting to be found, that people would go to the trouble of building something themselves. But the sad truth is, they simply didn't know better. There were even articles in magazines like "Mechanics Illustrated" telling how to build them.

Untold hundreds of these things were built in the late '30s into the '60s. Over the fifty years now I have been in this hobby, and wanting a really early car? I have personally looked at more than a dozen of these later made-up cars. And probably at least three times that many I have seen pictures of in hobby magazines and the internet. The really sad thing is, a lot of people invested so much of their own being into the story of great uncle so-and-so's wonderful car and all the silly stories he told about it. I have met several of those people. Some in tears after a bunch of different knowledgeable hobbyists informed them that their family's heritage was all a lie. Another poor fellow had kept the family's heritage 1903 car in his living room for almost 25 years! It was made about half out of model T Ford parts from the 1920s. (Pretty tough to have been built in 1903 if it was manufactured in 1925!)

 

Usually, so many pieces are so obviously way too modern, that the judgement is almost instantaneous. Usually, the front axle is one of the big tipoffs. Your 'thing' does have some early items on it. Maybe that means something, maybe it doesn't. There are some details about your front axle that suggest at least a possibility that this may not have been a horse drawn carriage before. On the other hand, it also may suggest that it is parts of two horse drawn carriages. Maybe someone had access to a bunch of old junk, and put it together to make his toy. Other details, like the seat riser and some of the steering, is clearly too new to be a real horseless carriage. But, maybe someone changed those thing in later years? Most likely, it is a made up thing, by someone that happened to have a few early pieces and used them. Most likely, it was never a real early horseless carriage. 

I would appreciate seeing better pictures of the front axle and steering. Also the rear axle and chain drive. 

 

In the people are funny for whatever it is worth department? I once met a fellow that when confronted with the fact that his great grand something ancestor's car was powered by a late '30s Briggs and Stratton engine quite indignantly replied that his great grand something had invented the engine himself, and that Briggs and Stratton owed his family millions of dollars in unpaid royalties! He seemed to absolutely believe it! How do you reason with a person that?

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Obviously some earlier parts with some much later parts. The dash, steering wheel, and seat riser is obviously much later, and makes the earlier parts hard to judge. The steering "box," and front axle looks early. Need to see the spindles. Most early cars would have the motor hung underneath the body. This car most likely had a two cylinder opposed engine and perhaps a radiator. The box under the front floorboard looks wrong. I would suggest a partial disassembly of the non-original parts and close inspection of the frame for clues is in order. At any rate, it could easily be made to look more correct for an early car, which would be better than the gobbly-gook you have now.

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In North Carolina, just after the turn of the century, a guy took a wagon and put a steering gear under the front and used the running gear out of a 1903 Oldsmobile to make him a truck. The vehicle still exists to this day. You may have something similar. If a period correct motor was used, it was possibly robbed for a restoration later on, leaving the made up parts, to which someone mated a modern motor to use in parades and such.

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Here are more pictures of "The Thing"  The steering has a rack and pinion set up with a relay rod to the left wheel and a tie rod back to the right wheel. The front leaf springs run front to rear which is different than the other high wheeler pictures I found. They are transverse mounted. The rear springs also run front to rear but the front of the leaves mount to a transverse spring and the rear mounts to the wood frame


 

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Well, the front axle and chain-drive rear axle are both manufactured items, not home made or blacksmith built. That coupled with the unusual suspension suggests that it (that much of it) was at one time a high wheel automobile. Pure speculation, the original engine likely failed as so many of those did, and was removed and lost. It is also possible that the motor was removed when only a few years old and used to pump water or power a saw or other farm machinery. Regardless, the chassis was allowed to sit out for many years until someone decided to make his "horseless carriage toy", putting in the Briggs and Stratton motor and making up parts for the body. The photo of the chain drive shows a part of the angle iron frame. A lot of early cars, especially high wheel cars, used simple angle iron frames bolted to wood. The combination of wood and steel made a flexible (important on the roads of the day) yet strong chassis that was easy to manufacture in small numbers using simple tools that they had.

The suspension is very unusual, for a high wheel automobile. I have looked at many hundreds of photographs of high wheelers over my many years in this hobby, and offhand, do not recall ever seeing one quite like this. Springs like that were often used on more expensive horse drawn carriages in the mid through late 1800s. With a horse drawn carriage, the front axle in its entirety swings around the front of the chassis and follows the horse. Being anchored to the horse it follows, it had no serious problems throwing the front of the carriage around when one wheel hit a bump or pothole. Some of the earliest experimental automobiles tried to steer the car by swinging the full axle on a center pivot just like the horse drawn carriage. It didn't take very long to figure out that without the horse to anchor it to, every small bump or pothole would stop one wheel and try very hard to swing the axle around often causing a wreck. 

Once they figured out that the majority of the front axle needed to be in a fixed position on the springs, mounting the springs front to back became more practical. In spite of this, many high wheel manufacturers did still use cross-way springs on the font, and sometimes rear.

 

Ideally, this car should be researched, and identified, so that it could maybe be properly restored. However, finding and getting a correct engine may not be possible. So dollar value for what is here is not great.

Most high wheel automobiles were two cylinder, most air cooled, although some were water cooled. Single cylinder high wheel cars were also manufactured by numerous companies, and a few three and four cylinder cars were also made.

You may want to look up George Albright, he seems to be the go-to guy for such early engines, I believe he lives in Florida.

 

It would be best to get a correct engine, but first one would have to get a firm identification of what this thing was. 

Even if a truly correct engine cannot be found? An appropriately similar engine can be used. There were several companies back then that sold replacement engines for such cars. Those can often be gotten. I know George A had a few of those for sale in recent years. I don't know if he has any now or not.

 

For a start, the March/April 1963 (volume 27, number 2) issue of the "Antique Automobile" magazine was a "Special High Wheel Issue" (they show up on eBad quite often). While not a thorough study, it gives a good overview and several nice short articles about a few such cars. It also has a list of over seventy different companies that manufactured and sold high wheel automobiles back in the early days of the automobile.

 

They can be fun cars!

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The chassis is correct in my opinion for an early truck. There is evidence on the front frame horn where something mounted crosswise before the dash that is on the vehicle now. I would say you have a correct chassis that is missing its motor. The steering wheel could easily be made period correct by adding a brass era T spider.

 

I would remove the dash and try to use reverse archeology to try to discern what was on the vehicle. How was the transmission driven? Is there evidence of a shaft or chain setup? If you can establish a line of travel, it will help identify what motor was used. Chase used some 2 cylinder air cooled motors and it looks like there may have been room for one before the dash mount location.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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This McIntyre bears some resemblance. You can see how the 2 cylinder motor was mounted under the seat. This vehicle used reach rods though, missing on your chassis I believe.

1911 McIntyre Delivery Wagon McIntyre The W. H. McIntyre Co. Auburn,  Indiana 1909-1915 This America Automobile started li… | Automobile,  Automobile industry, Wagons

With this McIntyre, you can see there was a pretty good space in front of the steering rod and then a very small front hood before the dash. That is similar to the space in front of your steering. You have one original frame rail. You should be able to locate holes that would indicate where things were bolted.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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FYI

A 1907-1912 Maxwell 2 cylinder motor sold recently on the Horseless Carriage Club's website for $950. I can't say that this motor would fit your chassis but just to say period correct motors may be out there for purchase if you can figure out what you need.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a 2 cylinder Fairbanks Morse motor for sale on the Horseless Carriage site, HCCA.org. It is advertised as a teens, 20s motor needing restoration but it would appear correct as opposed to what's on the vehicle now. I don't  know if you have an interest in putting the vehicle close to period correct but here is an option. Engine is frozen and $150., pickup only in Grafton, Mich.

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I think the plan is to strip off the fluff and get down to what I know is original, keep looking for period correct engine and literature, and move forward. A couple of things that bother me is why the steel rims with tread and why only a single drive chain if it was indeed designed as a truck?

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I don't think it was ever intended to be used primarily as a truck. The suspension is too light. A few manufactured high wheel automobiles were sold using steel bound buggy type wheels. That could be a clue to who built it? Most marketed high wheelers had soft solid rubber tires. It also may be possible that the rubber tires were changed at some point, or they may have been that thin when new?

A fascinating puzzle to be sure.

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I would respectfully disagree Wayne. While it is obviously not designed to carry heavy weight, the springs are similar to many light duty high wheel trucks of the period. The single chain drive is unique only in that it is not center drive. Throughout the first 10 years of automobile production there are examples of these primitive styles of vehicles. One would think production improvements would travel in a straight line but as companies like Cadillac and Buick, or Ford made improvements along a straight line, there were myriads of other companies entering the automotive field without the prior experience. One would think high wheel construction to be early from the simple design. Most high wheel vehicles actually enter the field later. While other car companies were getting more complicated in design, high wheel vehicles focused on simplicity and low cost. This vehicle probably was not designed as a commercial vehicle but rather for farmers, who would need to carry lighter loads. Similarly with the wheels, though they appear out of character, doesn't mean they are. Remember, paved roads did not exist in most places, especially rural areas. If this vehicle was designed for farmers to carry goods to market, rubber tires would be superfluous and another unnecessary point of failure.

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You are correct on all points AHa, the "high wheel" era was sort of an anomaly in the historic line of the automobile. A fair number of very early experimental cars in the 1890s were of high wheel carriage designs. Consider the well known first cars of Haynes, Apperson, Black, and Duryea (there were literally a hundred others). Although another line of thought were built around lightweight bicycle methods and technology. Henry Ford's Quadricycle was this sort.

For manufactured "high wheel" automobiles, the Holsman was the standout, beginning production in 1902. However, the "high wheel" era is generally thought to be from about 1907 into maybe 1912. That was when more than fifty different companies manufactured for sale a variety of high wheel models aimed at the rural America market. These were designed to be familiar and comfortable for farmers and simple to maintain and repair. The high wheel cars were well suited for the rough roads of the day outside cities, and good for light loads. Many of them did have a small area to carry boxes or produce. Some of the larger ones had removable back seats to carry more freight if desired. 

As roads improved (more quickly than most people realize!), the need for a car especially suited for rough country roads quickly faded away.  By 1912, only a handful of companies were still selling new high wheel type automobiles.

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  • 1 month later...

Believe I saw this about 40 yrs ago -  early 1980's. The rear wheel tread has always stuck in my mind. I was going to ask if you picked it up in Colorado - later noticed lisence plate on your pickup. If it's same running gear an older gentleman owned it ad had it in a shed in his back yard in Lakewood Colorado - south of Belmar Muesum on Wadsworth. A very good friend of mine (Roy) had told him it was International Highwheeler - the gentleman who owned claimed that was incorrect (which I agree it is not IHC Autowagon). At time it was first highwheeler I had ever seen. In 1991 Roy and I traded several pieces of old iron - I ended up with a early 2 cylinder air cooled motor - Roy encouraged me to make a highwheeler out of it with an old buggy. Well overtime I have researched highwheelers in depth - currently building one like Roy had suggested.  Why - because it's a challenge!  Also highwheelers value has increased at a crazy rate in last several years - so buying one to restore is out of budget. Do have a Model A Ford, Autocar truck, tractors and gas engines.

 

Ok - so really have no clue on who made your highwheeler. I can say it's not International, Sears, Holsman, Kiblinger/ McIntyre (Black), Anderson, Sucess ... 

 

What I can say it's very odd configuration. Front kingpin axle looks to be a combination of production car and blacksmith forged (spindles). Steering is most likely home made (large sector gear portion cut from a large gear possibly a pump jack?). Wheels - production models of highwheel era 1906 to 1912 typically have front and rears same size - modified horse buggies have different size wheels (first clue on being home made - unless it 1900 era). Rear differential axle - believe this is automotive. Highwheelers typically have differential on jackshaft with two chains to rear wheels (few had one chain).  Planetary transmission - well this is very interesting design - in general they are very hard to find so you are lucky to have this. The jackshaft configuration of the planetary transmission is very odd - mounting above frame also looks incorrect - needs dropped down under frame or with hangers (like a line shaft). I belive planetary transmission and rear chain drive differential came off of same early auto - not a highwheeler.

 

So - I call this a piece of Americana - example of man's desire to build and modify. Could it be made to look better - yes. What do you have when done? Call it a period correct blacksmith autobuggy. 

 

If and when I saw it 40 years ago it was only a running gear ... seat and gas motor were added later ... do not recall details of steering or planetary transmission ... it was rolled into a shed. Remember the tread on rear wheels.

 

Good luck with identification. Hope you find a period correct motor. Hope to see it a show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by G Mills (see edit history)
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WOW. Thanks for the input and info. I bought it at auction in Longmont about 8-10 years ago. Took it through a local parade when the grandkids were small and rode in the box. Other than that it stays in storage like a red headed stepchild waiting for it's time in the sun

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